Tag: school

By Kerushun Pillay for The Witness

Once a specialist field for nerds, the world of coding has today become pretty much a norm in the career space — so much so that even basic administrative jobs require people to know basic coding.

And the trend is being felt strongly: several online platforms, including universities, are on offer for people to get quick crash courses in coding, in addition to a wealth of online resources and free coding software for anyone interested.

There are a few non-profit organisations teaching coding and advanced IT to impoverished schools, with other local organisations strongly advocating for coding to be taught to the youth.

The looming fourth industrial revolution — which is likely to kill the traditional “blue collar” line of work — has meant advanced IT skills is slowly becoming no longer just advantageous, but more of a requirement. And those who’ve mastered it have seen a whole new world open up, from new employment and freelance opportunities, to suddenly being sought-after in their fields.

A pupil entering Grade 1 this year will graduate in 2031 if they do a one-year post matric qualification, when the world — and more importantly, the job market — is vastly different.

Coders make up a huge portion of the increasingly popular “gig economy” — where freelancers are hooked up with companies.

Even a traditionally pen and paper industry like journalism is slowly beginning to value basic coding skills, with more international newsrooms listing knowledge of basic HTML coding as a requirement.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is making plans to implement coding into the school curricula for Grade R to Grade 9 starting from next year.

The Department of Basic Education is looking at introducing coding schools.

The DBE has developed a “framework of skills for a changing world” and provincial departments are already in the process of implementing them.

The DBE said the Council of Education Ministers had last year approved the implementation of a Coding and Robotics curriculum to begin during foundation phase.

“Teachers and learners will be able to respond to emerging technologies, including the Internet of things, robotics and artificial intelligence,” the department said.

The DBE has partnered with Unisa­, which has made 24 IT labs available to train some 72 000 teachers in coding.

Unisa and the University of the North West are both working on developing the education framework for coding, the DBE said.

Those universities are also supporting the DBE to develop a coding platform which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to customise teaching and learning. That platform will be available in all 11 languages.

“There are plans in place to train at least three teachers in each of the 16 000 primary schools to teach coding.

“The implementation of Coding in the system will be preceded by a pilot project in 50 schools in five provinces during 2019, to ready the system and to ensure that the schools are prepared for full implementation post 2020,” said the DBE.

What is coding?
Coding makes it possible to create computer software, applications and websites. These are made using a specific coding language.

For example, HTML, CSS and JavaScript are used to construct websites, where HTML sets out the bare bones of a website, CSS is the design component which dictates colours and fonts, and JavaScript is the engine behind the website’s functionality.

So how does coding help children?

The “four C’s of coding” enable pupils to make sense of the digital world and develop crucial skills for the future job market.

1. Confidence

It encourages pupils to maintain a “can-do” attitude towards solving difficult problems. One of the coding concepts taught is debugging, where a coder has to identify and fix a bug. This process takes perseverance, and once it’s solved there is a sense of achievement and emboldened confidence in their coding abilities.

2. Creativity

Coding encourages experimentation, making mistakes, exploring ideas and questioning assumptions. In doing so, pupils develop the mindset for creative thinking. Instead of being passive technology users, they become active inventors and innovators.

3. Collaboration

Working in teams is an essential life skill. Coding may be seen as an independent task, but it calls for collaboration and group work, since many projects or apps are designed by teams. Coding projects also involve liaising with and presenting ideas to clients.

4. Computational thinking

By starting young, children will be better prepared to succeed and thrive in the 21st century. Computational thinking provides children with a new way of thinking that can be used to solve a variety of problems.

Here are five coding languages you should look at if you’re interested in coding. These will allow you to create a fully responsive website.

1. HTML — Think of a website as a human body, with HTML — or Hypertext Markup Language — being the skeletal structure. HTML is the most basic level of a website where the coder inputs all the components in plain text.

2. CSS — If HTML is the skeleton, then CSS is the clothing. CSS — or Cascading Style Sheet — allows the coder to input colours and fonts and rearrange components — also known as elements — and design the website as required.

3. JavaScript — Think of JavaScript as the organs: it isn’t seen, but is the engine that keeps the website ticking. JavaScript is used to create more sophisticated parts to a website. Ever see a website where photos or words come out of nowhere to invade the screen? That’s the work of JavaScirpt.

4. JQuery — JQuery is a library of JavaScript functions, making it easier for the coder to code certain functions.

5. PhP — or Hypertext Processor — is a server side language which allows the coder to include a server on the website. A server is used for, among other things, storing usernames and passwords. Facebook, for example, relies on PhP to store users’ information.

How do I even start?

You can learn a number of coding languages right now and all you need is an internet connection. Here’s how:

1. Use online tutorials — free guides, like W3Schools for example, are available to help you learn programming languages and also have solutions to commonly experienced coding problems.

2. YouTube — There are several “code along” videos to get you into the groove of coding. There are also channels offering step-by-step tutorials for every language.

3. Try it out — You learn by doing, and coding is no different. Let’s say you want to design websites: take a website you like which has a simple design and try to code it yourself. Online resources like GitHub­ also offer countless examples for you to test out.

4. Google it — Encountering stumbling blocks is inevitable but rest assured as dozens of people have had the same problem and have posted a solution.

What the analysts say

Analysis felt the move to adopt coding in schools was a positive one, but say implementation could be a challenge.

Dr Anthea Cereseto, the national CEO of the Governing Body Foundation, said while the foundation had not yet adopted a standpoint on the issue, the country could not risk being “left behind” while technology advances.

“We will advise schools to keep up with modern advances and coding is part of the future. The problem is with funding, and while we can’t neglect coding, attention must also be given to other shortfalls,” she said.

Cereseto said the department needed to weigh covering “essentials”, like early childhood development, while implementing coding: “There is a finite budget and the department has to prioritise properly. Recently, department expenditure has been declining.”

She added: “It should also be broadly rolled out and can’t only be introduced in elite pockets. Right now only the elite can get [coding] training if they pay for it, and some schools offer it. But it needs to be rolled out in schools or else the equity gap will be increased.”

Cereseto said training teachers would be another challenge: “Learning coding is not an overnight thing. They need to be trained properly and then we need the resources because something like coding can’t just be theoretical.”

Education analyst Professor Labby Ramrathan­ said: “It’s a big step, and introducing coding is more useful than introducing more languages. It would allow the curriculum to align itself with education for relevance.”

He said the DBE’s pilot roll-out will provide a sense of what is needed for proper implementation.

Tech guru Arthur Goldstuck said learning coding was like learning another language, as it will allow young people to understand the advancing world.

“It is wonderful to expose children to it and they will find a whole new world open up, but teachers generally don’t learn new concepts and we can’t start rolling it out until that happens.

“Resources are another challenge, but if money is taken from places where there is misspending and put in education there should be no problem,” Goldstruck said.

He added that schools should also look at teaching entrepreneurial skills, which go hand-in-hand with freelance coding and collaborating with other people.

It’s all the rage

Pupils are enthusiastic about coding, and it allows them to improve their creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

This is according to advocates for taking coding to the youth who run workshops at schools and offer coding training.

Stefan Louw, the co-founder of the CodeSpace Foundation, said learning how to code made technology more meaningful to pupils, and that it allowed pupils to think creatively to solve problems.

The foundation tasks pupils with project-based work in order to build their skills.

“When you’re learning, you’re making mental models and building things up in your mind, and when you’re applying that knowledge, you’re building something in your mind — that’s when you’re really learning effectively.

“The theory suggests that it’s by working through problems that are part of a larger project that students are able to ‘build’ the learning that will stick with them to be applied to future problems,” he said.

He added that his foundation will soon introduce robotics to schools.

“The job market is already experiencing a massive shift as automation becomes a reality: low-skill or unskilled labour is increasingly automated, but it’s definitely not all bad news.

“There’s a considerable opportunity for employment in this field, and a tech education can allow South Africa to leapfrog into a position of frontrunner in the world of innovation, if we’re able to provide tech education that will allow us to meet the worldwide demand for skilled, talented programmers.”

He said the current school system was “outdated” and there was now the opportunity to integrate IT to the point where it enhances learning across classes.

CodeJIKA, a non-profit which takes coding to schools, echoed Louw, saying that young people would not understand the demands of the new job market without being exposed to coding at an early age.

According to CodeJIKA, who have established pupil-run coding clubs in high schools, contrary to the perception that advanced computer skills are only valuable in IT professions, over 70% of computing jobs are outside that industry.

The organisation believes a knowledge of computer science is increasingly critical in research, finance and manufacturing.

Source: Study International

Move aside standard-shaped erasers and scentless highlighters and welcome to the stationery of today’s generation.

With its extra glitz and glamour, school apparatus that stands out like this is referred to as fashion stationery.

Taking the school market by storm, educators and companies are desperate to the get their hands on global market reports that sum up the trends, forecasts and analysis of the global stationery scene so they can gain the upper hand.

The demand for fashionable stationary is so huge that even the premium brand, Louis Vuitton, has cashed in on the trends with a stylish set of monogrammed pencils and portable cases.

Are these flashy stationery items distracting students from their work?

Let’s be honest – if you’re at your desk and you’re not paying attention to the teacher, then of course your set of animal-shaped erasers or yummy smelly scented ink pens are going to provide the perfect distraction.

That’s why two years ago, this British teacher requested a ban on fashion stationery.

In his opinion, “Some of this stationery should not be allowed in the classroom because it’s really only a distraction. Nobody really needs a pencil sharpener that’s shaped like a nail varnish pot and nobody really needs a pencil case with six different compartments.”

However, some students may disagree.

With so many fluffy and fun school items to choose from, how can young learners resist?

At the age where anything seems possible, it makes sense that kids want to take abstract backpacks and glow-in-the-dark apparatus to school – especially if ‘show and tell’ is a regular occurrence.

Distraction or not, wouldn’t it be odd to ban a student’s personal stationery in an age where K12 education is being steered towards conducive and creative learning environments?

It’s easy to see how the eyes of young learners move away from the whiteboard and onto kitsch stationery items, but there are ways of integrating both.

For instance, matching the scented highlighter up to the picture of the fruit on the page and asking elementary students to join the two together by colouring it in, or using fashion stationery as a prize for the weekly quiz.

There are many ways for teachers to engage with this trend – go ahead and even embrace it.

Make school stationery last

Source: Jacaranda FM

It’s back to school which means parents are expected to buy a list of school stationery as long as their arm for their kids.
Stationery can be costly and because of that, it needs to last. These tips below will help you ensure that your child’s school stationery lasts longer and will save you some money.

Buy good quality stationery
Good quality products last longer. Avoid buying things just because they are cheaper. It’s better to invest in quality stationery than finding yourself having to buy more stationery during the year, which might turn out to be costlier.

Remember to compare prices from different stores. You might get good quality products for less by comparing prices.

Organise your stationery
There is nothing worse than coming home to find your child’s stationery scattered all over the floor or in multiple rooms. Not only does this make your house untidy, but it can also result in your child losing some of the stationery. So, teach your children how to organise their stationery and to pack it away tidily.

Make a list
Keeping track of the stationery will ensure that your child doesn’t lose items without realising it. Set aside time for them either daily, or weekly where they check the list and ensure they haven’t lost anything

Ensure your child’s stationery is marked
Children often misplace or get their stationery mixed up. Marking your child’s stationery will ensure that they can easily identify it.

Buy a big enough school bag and space case
If your child’s school bag or space case is too small, they might end up damaging their stationery. Buy a big enough school bag that has the compartments they need for different items. Also get a space case so that they can pack all their stationery in one place.

Take proper care of stationery
Teach your children to handle their stationery with care. This means teaching them the importance of replacing tops on pens and markers, replacing the top on their glue sticks and keeping crayons and colouring pencils packed in the box.

By Sne Masuku for IOL

Black publishers and stationery service providers in KwaZulu-Natal have criticised the provincial Department of Education for awarding its R263-million stationery/textbook contract to one company to distribute these items to all public schools in the province. They claimed they were being put out of business.

The publishers and service providers, who own medium and small businesses, had previously serviced Section 21 schools. They alleged the new central procurement system tender awarded to one company in 2014 had expired in 2016, but the contract had been renewed for the past two years “illegally and uncompetitively”.

Complaints by the Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) Forum, comprised of representatives of the affected businesses, threatened legal action against the central procurement system and planned to challenge the legality of the tender. Should this matter end up in court, it would be the fourth procurement tender of the provincial department taken to court.

The department’s Nutrition Programme, the Scholar Transport Programme and the sanitary pads tender, worth millions, were some of the tenders suspected of irregularities, with some going to court.

Last week, the forum lodged a complaint with the provincial portfolio committee on education. The service providers asked the committee to escalate their matter to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga after their requests for a meeting with department officials were allegedly ignored.

Most schools had waited nearly a year for the department to give them funds for books and stationery.

Later in the year, the department, through a circular, advised schools that quotes which had exceeded 20% of the catalogue price including VAT, transport costs and other costs, would be migrated to the central procurement system using the service provider appointed by the department.

Service providers which supplied Section 21 schools with their stationery lost business when the department migrated their orders with private service providers to a company it had appointed.

“We are questioning why the department was so eager in doing business with a company that does not have a valid contract.

“The department is deliberately delaying payment of Section 21 school funds to take away business from us. The intention is to create a new monopoly in the Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) business,” said Mandla Shangase, the interim LTSM Forum chairperson.

According to the South African Schools Act, Section 21 schools which chose to order through private service providers had a right to do so.

This time, schools were told not to confirm their orders before they received a written confirmation from the department that the funds had been transferred.

A multidisciplinary task team appointed by Motshekga is currently investigating allegations of misappropriation of funds levelled by the National Teachers’ Union against the provincial department.

Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said any contractual obligations that the department may have with service providers remained confidential.

He said the department would never be involved in unlawful activities because they believed in good governance and transparency.

DIY homework caddies

Professional organiser Harmony Seiter has provided a step-by-step guide to creating an at-home homework station.

A homework caddy is great for small spaces, multi-purpose spaces, and for kids who love to do their homework on the floor or away from a desk or table.

• Find a caddy or a tray you like.
o You can find caddies of all shapes and sizes in many sections of a retailer (such as baby, bathroom, kitchen)
o You may need to add other containers to separate supplies

Watch the video here.

• Your needs will vary depending on the age of your kids.
o Primary grades may need crayons, scissors, glue sticks, pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, colored pencils, a ruler, tape, paper, and possibly subject folders.
o Middle schoolers and high schoolers may need a calculator, pens, pencils, highlighters, pencil sharpener, erasers, stapler or paper clips, paper, glue sticks, loose leaf paper, sticky notes, tape, and subject folders.

• Place your homework caddy in an easy to reach spot for your student. It’s easily mobile, but make sure it`s brought to the same spot at the end of the day so homework time is always easy to manage.

Whether you keep it in your dedicated office or your kitchen pantry, a homework station will give your student all the tools she needs to successfully finish the day’s assignments.

Source: www.fox13now.com

 

How space affects learning

South Africa faces a particularly challenging teaching environment with often overcrowded classrooms, distracted learners and hard working but sometimes under-qualified teachers.

And another, more subtle challenge is that traditional teaching classroom experiences are often not aligned with how the brain works, particularly as it relates to attention.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says that learning institutions in South Africa can achieve far better results by better understanding how learning works.

“There are so many things vying for student attention today it makes it harder to get attention and therefore engagement but there are five things that can be done to dramatically improve results:

Seat location impacts attention

A study by Kennesaw State University revealed that where students sit in the classroom impacts focus. Says Andrews: “Students in the front and middle of the classroom stayed on task, while those in the back were more distracted. An active learning classroom where students easily moved and rearrange their seating enables them to stay attentive.”

Classrooms configured with no fixed position where the instructor must stand and mobile seating create better results. Here an teacher or student can address the class, lead a discussion and share content from anywhere in the classroom. There’s no front or back of the classroom, and since the seating allows students to change posture and position easily, every seat is the best seat in the room.

Active learning

Research by Diane M. Bunce, et. al. on “How Long Can Students Pay Attention in Class?”, compared a passive lecture approach and active learning methods. Researchers noted fewer attention lapses during times of active learning. They also found fewer lapses in attention during a lecture that immediately followed a demonstration or after a question was asked, compared to lectures that preceded active learning methods. This suggests active learning may have dual benefits: engaging student attention and refreshing attention immediately afterward.

Physical movement fuels the brain

Schools are starting to incorporate more physical activity in the classroom, such as Delaney Connective, a high school in Sydney, Australia, where students do “brain pushups” each morning: five-minute, Tai Chi-like exercises that get the blood flowing and help students focus.
“Physical movement increases alertness and helps encode and trigger memory. Yet schools and teachers traditionally train students to be sedentary, and equate sitting still with greater attention and focus,” noted Andrews.
Simply allowing students to get out of their seats to move while learning provides the brain with much-needed novelty and change.

Novelty and change get attention

Our brains naturally seek out what’s new and different. Therefore varying materials and breaks facilitate attention. A study by Kennesaw State University found that students paid more attention when the professor reviewed quiz answers, presented new information or shared videos, essentially by changing things up.
Novelty and change facilitate learning in another way too. Repeating important points by engaging multiple senses helps to reinforce learning. There is a greater likelihood that learning will generalise outside the classroom if it is organised across sensory, physical, emotional and cognitive networks.

Learning has a natural rhythm

The need for periods of both quiet focus and healthy distraction finds its parallel in learning.
Our brain can focus on a task for only so long, after which it needs a break for renewal to achieve high performance on the next task. Ignore this rhythm and we tend to lose focus.
“Researchers have found that people who respect this natural rhythm are more productive,” says Andrews. Breaks for rest and renewal are critical to the body and brain, as well as to attention span. The work of education is similarly organic, changing at different times of the term, week, even during a single class period.

School stationery woes plague Limpopo

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in Limpopo says delays with the delivery of stationery have improved but the Sekhukhune district still remains a concern.

Sadtu members from various regions reported on the progress of stationery delivery in the province.

While deliveries had been made to most schools, Sadtu claims that some schools in Vhembe and Mopani are yet to receive stationery.

But the union has added that the situation is no longer a crisis there.

Sekhukhune, however, remained a worry.

“Vhembe and Mopani have picked up in terms of stationery delivery, there is no crisis now. The crisis remains at Sekhukhune,” Sadtu provincial secretary Matome Raphasha told News24 on Thursday.

The union hoped that the education department would move swiftly to address the problem as it argued that the lack of these materials at schools could have a ripple effect and affect final exams.

Court challenge

“It is possible that there could be omissions and shortfalls,” said Limpopo education department spokesperson Naledzani Rasila.

Rasila advised affected schools to contact their circuit offices.

Earlier this year a legal challenge was launched over the tender to deliver stationery in the province.

On Tuesday the education department was successful in a case involving two service providers who claimed that those awarded the stationery delivery tenders were irregularly appointed.

The two losing bidders took the department to court to try and get an interdict and to overturn its tender decision, and therefore halt delivery of stationery in the province.

The companies, Afropulse and Freedom Stationery, sought to overturn the awarding of the tender to African Paper Products and instead have it awarded to the two companies.

But the department had argued that it had almost completed the delivery of stationery to the 4 000 schools in the province.

By Chester Makana for News24

BTS shopping will soon be in full swing, and parents are undoubtedly looking for ways to save money on school supplies.

According to a recent study from Ebates released by Consolidated Credit, 34% of Canadian parents surveyed will spend less than $100, and 22% plan to spend more than $200 per child.

Of the parents in British Columbia who were surveyed, 20% say they plan to spend more than $200 per child and 41% said they plan to spend less than $100 per child.

Jeffrey Schwartz, executive director of Consolidated Credit, says that back to school season is one of the busiest shopping times of the year behind the winter holidays.

Parents with kids heading back to school this fall should make sure they take stock of what supplies they already have at home before going shopping.

“If you’ve got more than one child, that can get pretty expensive and take a bite out of your budget around this time of the year,” he says.

Schwartz suggests families go into stores with a plan and stick to it in order to keep costs down.

“Don’t go overboard. A lot of schools will provide lists that you need and sometimes those lists don’t come out until after school started,” he says.

Families should also go through their homes to take stock of what they already have and items they can potentially reuse.

“Recycle, reuse and rummage,” says Schwartz. “That means going through everybody’s backpacks from last year. Maybe you’ve got a drawer that you have in the house that’s full of pencils and pens and some of the staples that you might need and see what you can reuse there so you can avoid buying it altogether.”

Schwartz also suggests involving kids in the decision making process.

“Give them a budget. Give them a list. And perhaps even split some of the savings if they come in under budget,” he said. “It’s a fantastic learning tool for the kids around this time of year.”

Families should also keep an eye on any drops in price on items they’ve already purchased. Many stores will give shoppers back the difference.

According to research from MarketWatch, parents also make the mistake of shopping at dollar stores assuming they will have the lowest prices on everything, which isn’t always the case.

Big box stores can offer good deals on items by offering them as “loss leaders” for incredibly low prices. Their research also found that Amazon can also offer good deals if you buy in bulk but not necessarily on individual items and that a majority of consumers plan to shop both online and in-store.

By Ross McLaughlin & Carly Yoshida for www.bc.ctvnews.ca

Former pupils of a long-closed school shared their memories when they were invited back to the building.

The former Anthill Common Board School, which later became Denmead School, closed in 1972 and was taken over by Denmead Community Association.

Recently the main hall had a major refurbishment and a number of items from the school were discovered under the floorboards.

Former pupils were invited back to have a look at them and the work that has been done on the hall. Some of them stayed in the village, others – won scholarships for masters and left. This event turned out to be a reunion.

Penny Lehmann, 69, remembers her time at the school fondly.

Among the relics discovered when the floor was dug up to treat subsidence, in the School Lane building, were hundreds of old wooden rulers.

Penny, of Yew Tree Gardens, came up with the idea of making a collage with them.

She says: “I went here when it was Denmead School. I remember walking from the village green and stopping in the village shop along the way to buy sherbert lollies. In the summer we’d sit under the apple trees.

“It was a surprise to find the rulers – there were so many of them. I cleaned them all up and thought they would look good in the shape of the building but it didn’t work. I think the school name is very effective.”

rulers

One of Penny’s classmates was Dave Cox, who went on to become the village blacksmith.

The 69-year-old, of Anmore Road, has strong memories of the teachers and having to use the cold, basic outside toilets.

Maurice Hibberd, 94, was the oldest former pupil at yesterday’s event. He said: ‘I remember being asked to do the headmaster’s garden.

‘This place has changed an awful lot since then.’

Manager Bob Bainbridge MBE invited the community in to find out about groups who use the centre.

“I found pyramids of rulers – it was probably a game to drop them between the cracks in the floorboards. There were thimbles, a horse’s tooth and a little horseshoe too,” he says.

Source: www.portsmouth.co.uk

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